Matthew chapter 13:31-33 (continued)
“Another parable He put forth to them, saying: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.’ Another parable He spoke to them: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened’” (Matthew 13:31-33).
As we continue our study about the parables in this chapter we will see that Jesus used these parables to teach the truth about the kingdom of heaven to His disciples. These parables were meant to inform them about, and to help them to understand, the kingdom of heaven. They help us today as well.
Last time we looked at the Parable of the Wheat and Tares. It was a stark reminder to us that we engaged in a spiritual warfare that is much organized and is constantly working. We have an enemy—the devil, who is constantly working to confuse us and to imitate the things of God so that we can be caught off guard.
It is essential as we see that last days approach at a rapid rate that we become more and more grounded in the truth of the scriptures. Read, study, apply, then read, study and apply some more. Keep doing this until Jesus comes to get us. The Bible, the word of God in print, is the only tool that we have as a weapon against the devil.
Everything that comes our way no matter how good it looks and feels must be weighed against the truths of the Holy Scriptures. God’s wisdom is there for us to have proper discernment and insight to the events of the world around us.
It is especially important in the world of Christendom. It is easy for people to have the actions of a believer without ever having been converted.
This is what the tares are; they are unconverted religious people who masquerade as Christians. They say and do the right things but they have never met Jesus. They have never repented of their sins, confessed their sinfulness, and put their complete trust in Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection.
Yet they attend church faithfully, tithe and even teach some of the classes. How can this be? Satan is the master counterfeiter, he does not care if you go to hell, so if you have to look like a Christian as you are going to hell then so be it.
Today Jesus will offer some hope to those that are thinking that we are being defeated in the world around us. Every day we read of more and more attacks against Christians, against the freedom of speech that we have as citizens of free countries and it is easy to feel like Elijah and think that all is lost and that we are the only ones left. Be encouraged, God has never lost a battle and He is not about the start now.
The Mustard Seed, Verses 31-32
The mustard seed is the smallest of all seeds; yet it produces large trees. Jesus tells us in this parable that the mustard tree when it is grown is bigger that all the other herbs and that the birds of the air can nest in it. This is a picture we are told in verse 31 of the kingdom of heaven. So the kingdom of heaven here on earth will begin with a small “seed” but it will grow into a very large kingdom that people from all over can find homes and safety in.
Let us look at what the Lord has done over the past almost 2000 years since He has left to go and prepare a place for us. He left 11 apostles and when the Holy Spirit is sent on the day of Pentecost He finds a small group of people in the room waiting for His arrival in Acts 2. With this small group God changed the world as they knew it. From the dusty streets of Jerusalem, a city of about 11 square kilometers the gospel spread to the very palace of Caesar in Rome.
“All the saints greet you, but especially those from Caesar’s household” (Philippians 4:22).
The message went to Greece, to Ethiopia in Acts 8. Peter led the cause to the Gentiles in Acts 10 and we have the Gospel in just about every corner of the earth today. From a small seed planted by Jesus we have this global entity that has provided hope and peace for billions by simply preaching the cross of Jesus Christ.
There are Christians everywhere, in every sphere of life; God has infiltrated all of mankind with the Good News of the Risen Savior. Don’t be dismayed with a few bad reports and don’t be discouraged when we see our brothers and sisters who suffer and/or die because they refuse to deny the same of their Savior.
Their reward is great in the kingdom and we are to be excited that no matter what the devil tries he can’t makes the people of God keep quiet. He can’t destroy the work that Jesus set in place; he can scare us a bit, he can make serving the Lord hurt and he can harm us but he cannot stop it, ever. Remember Matthew 16:18:
“And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the forces of Hades will not overpower it.”
Please stop acting like if Satan has won. Chin up my brothers and sisters. Jesus cannot lose. Keep on serving the Lord and looking for his soon return. Once you see Him all fear will be gone and our faith will be sight. We will have that eternal smile that only Jesus can give and our enemies will simply fall away.
Leaven, Influence, Verse 33
When is the last time you baked something? My wife and I do a lot of baking and one thing I know is that it does not take a lot of leaven (yeast) to make dough rise. We often do very large batches of banana breads often 20 plus at a time; and compared to the amount of flour, sugar and other ingredients there is a very small amount of yeast needed to make it all work.
The kingdom of heaven has the same kind of influence—it is everywhere. Often one can’t see it but you can see its influence. Over the centuries the Lord’s churches have led the way in many areas like education and care. Ministries like the ABA Disaster Relief, The Salvation Army, Samaritan’s Purse and a host of other ministries get to the areas hit by natural disasters first. They feed the hungry, cloth the naked and tend to the sick and injured.
The Lord’s churches led in education over the years so that people would be able to read the Bible for themselves. If one were to look at the history of Harvard University you would see that it was started founded by Christians who after reaching the New World wanted a place for education.
A man called Mr. Harvard gave about half of his estate, about $3000 (in our money) to erect the building. These people did not want to be illiterate or to leave their children illiterate so they built a school. The kingdom of heaven reached all the way from the little city of Jerusalem all across Europe and then across the Atlantic to be involved in education.
Likewise Yale and Princeton had similar beginnings to that of Harvard. The Bible was freely taught and the men and women who graduated were well-educated in the things of God. Sadly these schools have gone far away from these foundations and have become some of the most atheistic schools in North America.
Go and read some of the statements written by the founding fathers of the USA and you will find men who although not Christian, they knew enough to know that you could not run a country without the Bible and God as the center of the nation. Christianity is found everywhere and amongst all peoples.
The small little group that Jesus left have spread His Word and influence from generation to generation by word of mouth, by written word, by serving their fellow Man in countless ways and in understanding that the kingdom of heaven was all that mattered. They were selfless and many were simple people who served a Super God who honored their sacrifices with great success.
Don’t ever think that the devil has won. He has not and he will not, ever. Simply endure to end and you will see the salvation and power of the Lord. One day you will see that God has people everywhere, in every place from every country and city and town and language. Black people, white people, Asian and anything else under the sun, God has people there in that group. The little gospel from that Upper room in Jerusalem has spread all over the world.
“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8).